In the wake of the presidential election, Americans across the nation can breath a sigh of relief that the political rhetoric is finally calmed. Granted, here in the States, the politicization is never truly calm (merely days after the ballots were in, we’re already hearing predictions for 2016) but at least the campaigning is done. Yes, here in America, its all about the rhetoric – about reading in between the lines, interpreting the body language, and endlessly assessing and reassessing the hidden meaning behind voice inflexions, facial expressions, and color scheme.
Anyone even vaguely familiar with Middle Eastern culture – or, more accurately, Middle Eastern people – knows that over there, this is not the case. Whether you are yourself Middle Eastern, have Middle Eastern relatives, or have ever been the unfortunate target of a Middle Eastern kiosk salesperson, you know well enough that they tend to be less discrete about their intentions. Relative to American politics, it's actually quite a relief – no need to interpret, infer, or extrapolate meaning. You might need to translate, but simple internet access and a quick Google search makes that easy enough.
So to my fellow Americans, I ask: why are you so confused?
As the conflict between Israel and Gaza escalates, I watch Americans – average citizens, college students, and news anchors alike – apply their very Western political approach to the issue, attempting to interpret the intentions of either side. Well, no offense guys, but you are doing a horrendous job. So let me clear a few things up for you.
Hamas is a terrorist organization with genocidal pursuits. This is not the interpretation of an American Jew or the accusation of a Zionist. This is a statement of fact based on the denotative meaning of terrorism and Hamas’ own declared mission. As it is stated, in no uncertain terms, within their own charter, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it …. The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight Jews (killing the Jews) when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” Like I said, very explicit about their intentions.
Meanwhile, let's look at the other side: the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Right off the bat, the name says it all – defense. From its conception to today, the IDF has not only declared its mission as being dedicated to defending the citizens of Israel, but has demonstrated time and again its commitment to this charge. Just this week, Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev, on an interview on CNN, explained without the slightest trace of ambiguity,“we want peace with our Palestinian neighbors … it's important to understand that we are defending ourselves today but we still, at the same time, extend a hand to our Palestinian neighbors. We want peace. We want reconciliation. We are ready for negotiations.”
So, before you try to read between the lines, I urge you to listen. Listen to the message, the mission, and the means of either side. I assure you, neither leaves much room for interpretation.